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Ten Hindrances to Prayer - Part 1

Updated on September 21, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Prayer Meeting?

Once upon a time the New Testament church and churches birthed from New Testament churches had what was known as a prayer meeting. This prehistoric creature invaded the lives of the New Testament church. The churches thrived under its visitation. But much like all dinosaurs, it has all but become extinct in most churches. Would you believe that satan has become very successful at stopping the most powerful event in the life of the church?

In this short series I want to examine the failure of the modern church in the area of prayer, and I want to expose the weaknesses so that they may be strengthened. If you read this hub you will become responsible for making whatever changes the Holy Spirit may show you. These areas concern the corporate prayer meeting, not individual prayer.

It seems that many churches use Wednesday night as a time for prayer, but in reality the day or time does not matter, and in reality, most of the time these meetings are not prayer meetings at all. Call it a mid-week service, but please do not mislead your people by calling what is just another service a prayer meeting.

Singing or Praying?

Usually the night begins with a song or two. That makes a good start as long as there is true praise coming from your lips.It seems sometimes that we just mouth the lyrics to the songs rather than offer true praise to the One who set us free. It may even be that we lie while singing the praises because our heart and words do not match.

The next step quite often is a time of "sharing God's blessings". This also is appropriate if it is coming from a heart of thankfulness. If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times. Someone stands and says, "I want to thank God for using me to witness to this person." I want to thank God for allowing me to be used by Him as I reached out to so and so." Wonderful! We should be thankful every time chooses to use us in His work, but it is HIS work. Underneath the praise is a heart filled with pride that speaks louder than the words spoken. Observe how many times a person uses the pronouns, "i", "me", or "my". It is quite telling.

The Famous Bible Study Time

What shows up next on the agenda quite often is the Bible study. Again, there is nothing wrong with Bible study, but its place is not in a prayer meeting. Perhaps the leader could share a verse or two about prayer to help prepare the hearts for a time of seeking God, but remember that this is a prayer meeting, not a Sunday morning service. Use the time to focus on its purpose - prayer.

I have been to many meetings that go something like this: sing for ten minutes; praise and blessings - ten minutes; Thirty minutes of Bible study; prayer for five minutes. This all too familiar formula is all too common in many churches. But the worst thing is that it is called a prayer meeting when in reality it is anything but a prayer meeting. Study the New Testament prayer meetings. You will not find this "order of service" anywhere.

Where is the Holy Spirit?

What if the Holy Spirit says, "Sing for 30 minutes?" What if He says, "Forget the Bible study tonight?" Schedules have no place in a prayer meeting, or for that matter in any service. The Holy Spirit should be free to lead as He desires, not be suffocated by man's traditions and expectations.

You know it is true. In most American churches on any given Sunday or Wednesday night, the Holy Spirit is quenched, is stifled, simply because man does not listen to His voice nor does man care to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. Far too often our "prayer meetings" become nights of entertainment and feel good times. We forget that it is all about the God of the Universe who wants to meet with us. It has nothing to do with our feelings, or even our needs. We have come to seek Him and meet with Him on His terms, not what is convenient for us.

What would you think if your Wednesday night meeting continued for three or more hours in prayer? Are you flexible enough to allow the Holy Spirit that option? This is where revival praying takes place. This is where lives are changed. This is what happens when God has the run of the show instead of a church board. There is nothing that can replace or compare to quantity and quality time with God Himself.

How important is a prayer meeting for you?

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A Prayer Meeting?

I was invited to a "prayer meeting" at a church once. The scenario was similar to the one mentioned above. There was a time of singing. On cue, the song service stopped, and it was time for a "message" from God's Word. For the next 45 minutes we barely scraped the surface of what the Scripture had to say. I must say that ears were tickled though. Everybody felt good because they did their weekly thing.

The teenagers met in another part of the building. Promptly at 8:00 o'clock (exactly one hour after the service started), the preacher stopped preaching and informed us that we had 15 minutes to pray because the youth group would be dismissed at exactly 8:15. Talk about pressure. Some people said their token prayers and were out the door in about five minutes. Others left immediately after the preaching. Please don't keep the youth group waiting!

At another meeting I attended, the playscript was similar. For close to an hour the preacher beat one verse until there was nothing left. I have no clue as to what he spoke about. Then after he was out of breath, he dismissed us for prayer which lasted no more than seven minutes.

I'm not saying these things are bad. I'm just saying whatever happened to the prayer meeting? Whatever happened to the folks who would cry out to God in Heaven-sent anguish on behalf of their lost family and friends? Where have all the tears gone? Are we really too proud to shed a tear because we so desperately need the Lord? Actually, we are probably too proud to admit we need the Lord. We can do it all - or so we think.

The Prayer Meeting Has Been Traded

The truth is very few churches have prayer meetings anymore. You can trade in your prayer meeting for a mid-week service, but that is not where the power is. The New Testament church began from a group of believers uniting themselves in prayer for ten days in an upper room. Later their prayers would open prison doors and shake the very foundations.

Do you know it is still possible to set prisoners free through prayer? It is still possible to rock the foundation of the world? It is still possible to see God do the impossible. This may not be for me to say, but again, maybe it is - your church will never have the power of God on it unless it is bathed in prayer on a regular basis. You need to immerse yourself in prayer seeking God. Your church needs to return to seeking God collectively if it is not doing that right now. Somebody has to stand up and make a difference. It may as well be you. Challenge the people in your group to go deeper with God through corporate prayer. Get the power of God on your life and on your church again.

Time is running out! It is time to get back to basics. In the next installment I will begin to list ten hindrances to the prayer meeting for you to consider.The first thing to consider is, do you have a prayer meeting?


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    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi BooksGalore ,

      That is so sad, but it, is so common anymore. Without prayer the church short-circuits her existence. No prayer - no power. That's why America is in such bad shape. I'd like to invite y ou to join us at

    • BooksGalore profile image


      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yes, this is something I have really been wondering about--why churches don't pray more. God recently moved me to a city where the churches don't pray at all during the midweek service.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Sky,

      Glad to see you stop by. Thanks for making the trip and for commenting!

    • Sky321 profile image


      5 years ago from Canada

      Excellent points! I heard of one aboriginal church up north that sang all night.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Glad you had a safe trip!

    • Tamarajo profile image


      5 years ago

      The southern route is definitely preferred, not only less toll roads but less road construction and metro traffic.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi TJ,

      Well, I see you made it back from your trip east. Glad to know that! How about the toll roads?

      "It truly is a struggle in these times to get to that place of quietness by taking the time to do it or even wait until He speaks or moves us." I think that's the main problem at times. It's hard to find, or should I say make that quiet time. His, still, small voice is so often silenced by the din of the world.

      Glad you were able to stop by for this one. and thanks for your added thoughts!

    • Tamarajo profile image


      5 years ago

      You make some excellent points about why prayer can be stifled as in limiting the Holy Spirit by time constraints and personal wishes.

      You are so right that we need to give the Holy Spirit something to work with so we might become effective in prayer by learning to be sensitive to His promptings.

      It truly is a struggle in these times to get to that place of quietness by taking the time to do it or even wait until He speaks or moves us.

      I struggle with corporate prayer at times in that it doesn't seem much like what I imagine when I read the book of acts when they prayed with one accord. I imagine something lively and even quite noisy and active. They didn't seem like quiet polite little meetings.

      I would be willing for a 3-4 hour prayer meeting that is full of the life giving Spirit of God orchestrating it but can hardly trudge through 1/2 an hour of prayer bathed in personal opinions, feelings, politics, and agendas and running through the needs rolodex check list.

      It also seems like so many are uncomfortable to pray with others. Not just new Christians but long time ones. I'm really not sure what that is about. I have asked some and they usually something like they don't think they pray well which I find so sad because prayer isn't supposed to be about personal accomplishment and fancy ways with words but as your article states its about being led by the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's will and purposes.

      I hope your series will inspire all including myself to give the Holy Spirit more room to move in the area of corporate prayer because we so desperately need it. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and for seeing what is so often missing in our churches. Yes, we must be constantly before the Throne of Grace.. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

    • GodTalk profile image

      Jeff Shirley 

      5 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      We need a revival in our land. And that revival begins with the prayers of each and every believer. The great revivals of the past were bathed in prayer. However, as you say in your Hub, the prayer meetings of today are anything but prayer meetings. It is high time that we get back to a belief in the power of prayer and show it by being constantly before the Throne of Grace, both individually and corporately. Thanks Bill and God bless.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Ho Faith,

      Yes, one can certainly tell when the Holy Spirit is at work. Unfortunately many also think He is when He isn't. Their church is as dead as a doornail as they say. Keep on praying and seeking. We're just about home.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Bill,

      A thought-provoking piece here! More than ever do we need to come together in prayer, laying it all down at the foot of the cross, crying out to our Lord God in one accord. One knows when the Holy Spirit is present!

      God bless you, Faith Reaper

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Good Morning MsDora,

      True prayer meetings rarely exist anymore. Hold on to the memories. I like your choice of words - heavenly. That's a wonderful description of what a prayer meeting should be. I hope we can find more "heavenly" spots in the world. Thanks for visiting, and have an absolutely wonderful day!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lifegate, my grandmother and I attended prayer meetings in which people prayed together in one accord and it was heavenly. Those prayer meetings have remained my reference point. It seems that those of us who are older have our work cut out for us. God help us!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi LisaMarie724 ,

      Glad to meet you and glad you enjoyed the read. Hope to see you again soon!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Unfortunately Jackie, your story could be told over and over again in churches across America. And you're right. It's the preacher's fault. I may not do everything right all of the time, but when we reject God in place of man our churches are in dire trouble. I hope many will take a look at what's going on in their churches and get back to God. Thanks for the visit.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi ComfortB,

      No, I don't think Bible study or praise is bad. It just doesn't fit in with a prayer meeting. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment. You're right on - and unless we get back to the basics, our families, churches, and country are in real danger. Keep on keeping on!

    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      May as well face it it is the preacher or leader's fault. As you say the Holy Spirit should be leading the meeting. I went to a new church once and they were picking a new pastor and wow this man I just knew they would choose. He had a fire of the Spirit in him and I was so excited I finally got my husband talked into going but when we got there they had chosen another man and it started out OK but then he started talking about some teens that had came to church wearing jeans and sunglasses and he was sending them all to hell and we were so shocked to hear this and then even more to see these people nodding their heads and amening him. It was all I could do to keep my husband in his seat til the service was over. What is the answer to such a thing? They let that holy bible teaching man go and chose this man who wanted no sinners (?) in the church.

      Oh and BTW I agree full heartedly that prayer meetings are not what I remember from my youth. There was power of the Holy Spirit there at every service.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 

      5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      "I'm not saying these things are bad." Really? They are bad! Let's call a spade a spade. Prayer meeting in most churches today is more about keeping to the bulletin board schedule.

      There was a time when believers could touch the world through intensive, violent prayer. The type that could discomfit the 'Prince of Persia'.

      Today, the church is as cold as the North Pole. We've embraced the world and its ways. Call for prayer, and only a handful shows up. Call for Trunk or Treat, and the entire church body comes in, with their guests.

      Why are our prayers hindered? Because we "...have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: ..." Matt. 23:23

      Great hub! Voted up and interesting.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Rose,

      It's nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping by. i don't think it matters what day or night, but I do believe that the power of God has largely left the American church due to a lack of prayer. We need to get back to it one way or another. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi LS,

      Glad you could stop by! I'll be looking for your hub. I can hardly wait! Have a wonderful night.

    • profile image

      Rose Hennessey 

      5 years ago

      Thank you so much. I need to work harder on my own prayer life. I agree with the mid week prayer meeting. Maybe we should have an added day for a 'prayer meeting' since the mid week seems to be for another out reach. God bless you as the Spirit of God leads your ministry.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thank you Bill. You nailed it right on the head. I have been working on a hub on this very topic. I love your heart for integrity and sincerity in the Lord.


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